Thursday, April 07, 2022

Osho on Jesus's Crucifixion

Excerpt from

There were two thieves who were crucified with Jesus: one was on his left side, the other was on his right side. You may not have ever thought of it as a tremendously significant symbol that Jesus represents the present moment. One thief is the past, the other thief is the future, and Jesus represents the present moment - closest to God, closest to essence. 

One thief mocked Jesus - the past always mocks you; he condemned Jesus - the past always condemns you. The other thief asked Jesus about the future, 'What will happen after death? Will I be able to see you in heaven?' One is past, the other is future, and Jesus is just sandwiched between these two thieves. 

And why call them thieves? Past is a thief, future is a thief, because they go on stealing your present. They are thieves. To me this is a parable. 

Jesus is present, herenow, closest to the essence, just ready to die and disappear from the body and the mind. He hesitates a little bit -everybody hesitates. When you come to the present and you will see eternity facing you -no past, no future, but eternity - a totally different dimension. Past, present, future are horizontal; eternity is vertical. Again, to me the cross is the symbol of these two lines crossing. 

A cross is made of two lines - one horizontal, the other vertical. This is a representation of time and eternity. Everybody hesitates when facing eternity, nowhereness, nothingness or all-ness. It is so much, one is going to disappear into it like a drop. And the ocean is so big, one will not be found again. Even a dewdrop falling into the ocean from a grass leaf hesitates. 

Jesus hesitated, and I love this man because he hesitated. His hesitation shows that he was human. His hesitation shows that he belonged to us - he was son of man. He cried to God, 'Have you forsaken me?'  'What are you doing to me? Have you abandoned me? Are you no more with me? I am disappearing and I don't see your hands protecting me' - the dewdrop is falling in the ocean - 'Where are you? I am falling into a deep nothingness. Death has arrived, and I had always hoped that in death you would be there waiting and you would embrace me, you would take me in your fold, you would be warm and loving. But where are you? Have you forsaken me? Have you abandoned me? I don't see you anywhere.'

It is very human - the life of Jesus is very human - and that is the beauty of it, that's why it has impressed so many people. His very humanity is touching. But then he saw the point: he must have looked deep into the eternity, the nothingness, he must have seen the point that 'God cannot have a human face, this is his face,' that 'God cannot have human hands,' that 'This nothingness is ready to embrace me, to take me deep into its heart.' And then he said to God, 'Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. So, be it so, let it be so. So you are nothingness: I am ready, I trust you. I will trust even your nothingness.'

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Education class reflection (2007)

This is a papaer I wrote in 2007 in a course that I failed. I was taking 18 hours when I probably should have only taken 12 or 13, and all the course assignments had very specific rubrics on how it would be graded with what seemed to me were meaningless guidelines, so I would ignore the rubric and try to complete the "spirit" of the assignment, instead. Like I said, I failed the course, but damn I love this essay I wrote for the final class assignment!

Reflection about Education

Think about the difference between volunteer work and having a job within a corporate system. If you’re the cashier at Walmart, the more machine-like you are, the better. The important thing is to check items out quickly and accurately, to “complete your duties efficiently.” Your attitude toward customers is not the primary priority. But if you’re volunteering at say feeding the homeless, interaction with people is the important thing. (Unless, they are starving are something, which is very rare in America.) A machine-like volunteer would bring no joy to the lives of those you are serving, and thus misses the entire point of volunteer work, of public service. Corporate work benefits from a machine-like approach; public service benefits from a human-like approach.

In his book How to Survive in Your Native Land, recounting his experiences teaching in a public middle school, James Herndon provides a powerful illustration of the difference between truly internally motivated student activities, and what teachers assume to be internally motivated participation. He describes how kids in his regular class enjoyed the creative tasks he came up for them to do: the “uproar when twenty kids rushed to the board to put up their symbols” when the class was creating a Hieroglyphics-like language, getting information about how the Peace Corps operates and then writing “imaginary journals of stays in Africa and South America.” Then, once, he and a colleague started a new class, without grades, and in which students were issued “permanent hall passes,” making attendance completely optional. They soon found that students didn’t want to participate in these creative tasks. “We had to face the fact that all the stuff we thought the kids were dying to do (if they only had time away from the stupefying lessons of other teachers) was in fact stuff that we wanted them to do, that we invented. … And not only things to be doing—it was things for them, the kids, to be doing. … We wanted to see what symbols the kids would invent for English words; we didn’t have much curiosity about the symbols we ourselves would invent. We didn’t write fake Peace Corps journals ourselves; we only told the kids to do it.”

Herndon then describes the successful activity of that class. He and his colleague decided to make a film, but one that they wanted to make. “We didn’t want to find out what the kids’ notions of films were. We didn’t want to see what they would do with the film. We didn’t want to inspect their creativity.”

“If … the role of teacher as giver of orders didn’t work out, it was also true that the other role (the one Frank and I had imagined)—the teacher as Provider Of Things To Do, the teacher as Entertainer—didn’t work our either. For wasn’t that just what the kids had been telling us all year in their oblique, exasperating way? What did all that Nothing To Do In Here mean, if not that the kids didn’t want entertainers, wouldn’t accept them if they didn't have to, wanted the teachers to be something else entirely?

“Wanted them to be what? What was the difference between all the grand things we’d thought up for the kids to do and The Hawk? Why, merely that we didn’t want to do any of the former ourselves and we did want to do the latter.”… “Wanted them to be human.”

Later, Herndon spells out his central message to teachers:
“Resist every day all the apparatus of the school which was created in order to enable you to manage and evaluate a group, since it is just that management which destroyed the kids you have in your class.

“You must examine your authority for what it is, and abandon that part of it which is official, board-appointed, credentialed and dead. Then you must accept the natural authority you have as an adult, belonging to a community of adults which includes the kid’s parents and relatives.”

So Herndon tells us to resist “all the apparatus of the school which was created in order to enable you to manage and evaluate a group.” But be aware that the apparatus serves a useful function. For bad teachers, and we should admit there are bad teachers, the apparatus is a necessary “safety net” that gives at least some sort of direction to the class. But that’s all it is: a safety net! If we’re trying to teach students to do more than crawl, we must “resist the apparatus”, rise above the safety net, and use only the “natural authority you have as an adult.” So don’t use grades to get behavior out of students, (but I do believe grades have a useful function of allocating scholarship opportunities to those who most want them), and don’t give out praise to students just for doing what’s expected of them (how weird would it be if we treated our friends that way? “Good job coming to dinner with me tonight, Steve!”). Resist that artificial authority; only use it as a safety net when you feel overwhelmed from being the only adult in a class full of kids.

This is such an important idea for teachers to understand: Authority from being a teacher is a good safety net, but should be resisted. Our authority from being an adult is in fact much more real, and much more powerful.

So which approach should a teacher take? Should teaching be approached like any other corporate job? Or should it be approached more like a public service? From what I can tell, the education department here favors the corporate model of teaching. We’re encouraged to use rubrics, “behavioral objectives”, and grades to get students to efficiently carry out the assignments we give them.

I love the idea of teaching; I want to teach, at least on and off, many years down the road from now. But I’m not satisfied with the experience I have had in this department. This is now my senior year, and it’s not at all been what I hoped it would be. To me, teaching is about more than getting students to understand the content of a subject. To me, teaching is about impacting the lives of students, about initiating them into society, about teaching them to be good members of a community. When I think of a good teacher, I have always thought of Socrates. (Jesus or the Buddha were also a teachers, but I understand it’s best not to go that direction. ) It seems to me, though, in this department we’re not learning how to be teachers. We’re learning how to train corporate workers. …to get students to carry out their tasks accurately and efficiently. I believe in public education. If I teach, I want to teach in public schools. That’s where the need is, right? I understand the value of everything we have covered in this class, and appreciate being made aware about all of it, but I don’t agree with being required to fill out all these lesson plans and content assessment projects. Don’t all the physics classes I have taken test whether I know the content or not? To properly teach physics in high school isn’t so much about getting students to understand specific concepts; most of them won’t become physicists anyway. Rather it’s about explaining the role physics has in our society, and about initiating them somewhat into that culture of physics, so that students will be able to decide whether or not they are interested in pursuing the subject as a possible career.

I don’t think being able to fill out a unit plan reflects my ability to be a high school physics teacher. Being a high school teacher should focus primarily on building a strong sense of classroom community, initiating students into the cultures of different career paths, and only then, on having successful lesson plans that give students every opportunity to succeed on that path if their interest leads them there. For me at least, putting the primary focus on producing excellent lesson plans for all students, whether they are really interested in the subject or not, deadens what the idea of teaching is all about. Rather than impacting the lives and choices of students, teaching is reduced to either giving students orders or an entertaining them. Either training corporate workers or simply providing students with things to do.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Does Tori Amos's 'Crucify' Mirror William Blake's Reworking of Christian Theology?

There are striking similarity's between Tori Amos's song Crucify and William Blake's re-working of Christian theology in his poem The Everlasting Gospel.  In fact, William Butler Yeats' commentary on Blake's poem can just as easily be used to explain Crucify's lyrics!  The following is color coded with Tori Amos in blue, Blake in red, and Yeats in green.
Every finger in the room
Is pointing at me
 Accusation is the great mental sin. Other sin is merely physical, and belongs to the things of Time that pass.  
I wanna spit in their faces
Then I get afraid of what that could bring
I got a bowling ball in my stomach
I got a desert in my mouth
Figures that my courage would choose to sell out now
Healthy Satanic pride in the energy of that lower part of mind, called body, has also a right to its elation because "everything that lives is Holy." 
I've been looking for a savior in these dirty streets
Looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets
Lust is fire. It is also the basis of our human imagination which develops from it. Thus lust, seeking to destroy mind and make body everything, unites the sexes bodily, consumes their separateness, and is the basis of that union which is the entrance of mankind into the state called Man. In other words, it is the destruction of the dust, type of separateness, and the release of the Image of God from that dust by the Breath Divine that moved on the waters and made them the source of Unity in the infinitely divided.
I've been raising up my hands
Drive another nail in
Just what God needs
One more victim
Humility is only doubt, 
And does the sun and moon blot out, 
Roofing over with thorns and stems 

The buried soul and all its gems.  
Why do we
Crucify ourselves
Every day
I crucify myself
Christ's two natures impelled Him to crucifixion. He went to "humble Himself to God," and also to proudly destroy the serpent in himself; his own spectre, or Satan. This Satan is the false (view of) Christ, worshiped still...  This Serpent, Satan, was what was nailed to the tree. This body was destroyed or devoured in three days. This devouring is the meaning of the serpent with his tail in his mouth. Christ's self-sacrifice (or suicide) was the thrusting into death of Satan, and who had become Himself as a result of the Incarnation. 
Nothing I do is good enough for you
Crucify myself
Every day
I crucify myself
And my heart is sick of being
I said my heart is sick of being in
Chains, oh oh oh
Chains, oh oh oh
Satan is not only the moral accuser but the denier of Imaginative truth, for he would have Reason and Memory only considered to be intellectual attributes. With these he builds the dark fiction of error — a belief in that delusive Goddess Nature, who is the mother of physical morality, and of mental immorality... [Christ's Crucifixion] was the eternal putting-off of Reason and Memory and Morality as delusions, that Imagination, Eternal Present, and Forgiveness might survive.
Got a kick for a dog
Begging for love
I gotta have my suffering
So that I can have my cross
Jehovah, in the persons of the Elohim, and by the agency of the Angel of the Divine Presence, created this dark world as an act of mercy and of cruelty. It is of mercy because it enables the weak emotions to look through symbols upon prophecy, and also because it passes away, being under Time. It is of cruelty because it cuts off joys of mind and adds on pains of mind — of that lower and shrunken part called body. 
I know a cat named Easter
He says, "Will you ever learn?
You're just an empty cage girl if you kill the bird"
The Image of God in which man was made is the form of the Imagination. This is common to all men and will end by becoming One Form. It will unite all. It will survive all. It will redeem all, saving them from violation or experience and the slavery of belief in nature, in accusation, and in the mental permanence of sin. In a word it saves them from Satan, God of this world. Reason and memory tend also to unite men's personalities into one great Temporary Delusion. This is the great Satan, opposite of the great Saviour. It is negative, imagination only being positive.
Got enough guilt to start
My own religion
To this hour, Satan also, himself the type of Christ by being Christ's mental opposite, tempts man to lust that he may accuse him, restrain him, make him take morality for religion, and so absorb him in the delusions of Nature and live in his absorption.  
Save me
I cry
But the Divine element in man does not leave him when he enters into lust, but accompanies his three regions of Head, Heart, and Loins, as the Form of the Fourth accompanied the three men in the furnace. It takes Man in all men into this vegetable fire, and comes out of it with him. Satan also sacrifices himself in the vain attempt to sacrifice others to himself. So he also becomes a Redeemer while still the contrary of the great Self-Sacrificer, and his suicide, with its evil intent, complements the good suicide of the crucifixion. This latter suicide began when God allowed his Image to be of two sexes, and when "Male and Female created he them," whose name was called " Adam " — red earth.
Where are those angels
When you need them
Thou Angel of the Presence Divine,
That didst create this body of mine,
Wherefore hast thou writ these laws
And created Hell's dark jaws ?

Monday, August 05, 2019

Armond White's Review of Up: "The Way of Pixarism"

The only version of this I could find removed all capital letters, so I am reposting a corrected version. The review is the work of Armond White.  

Pixar rules pop media like nothing since mid-20th century General Motors held sway as the preeminent American corporation (and the bane of grassroots individualism). Every Pixar film-including the new Up, gushed over by Cannes Film Festival shills-is greeted with nearly patriotic fervor. This absurdity clarifies contemporary news media's unprincipled collusion with Hollywood capitalism.
Up's uninteresting story of an old widower who attaches his home to helium balloons and floats off to Venezuela with an overeager kid in tow follows the same formula as the previous nine Pixar movies. But artistic standards get trumped by a special feature: sentimentality. Pixar's price sticker includes enough saccharine emotion to distract some viewers from being more demanding; they don't mind the blatant narrative manipulation of a sad old man and lonely little boy. They buy animation to extend their childhood like men who buy cars for phallic symbols.
As a child, Carl Fredrickson, already a young fogey, thrilled to the airborne adventures of daredevil explorer C.J. Muntz. But in retirement, Fredrickson sulks; mischief deeply buried beneath blandness. Carl's not an irascible audience-surrogate like the urban curmudgeon Mr. Magoo. Only Russell, the pie-faced, father-abandoned, 8-year-old scout, is cuter. "Cute" is how pixar oversimplifies the world. Even the montage showing Carl's marriage to childhood sweetheart Ellie (their wedding, companionship, childlessness, then Ellie's illness and death), is over-sentimentalized. This silent interlude is no more daring than the utterly conventional Wall-e: it concludes with Carl, alone, holding a blue balloon at ellie's funeral. Sheesh. Although chaplinesque music underscores these maudlin scenes, they're not emotionally pure like Chaplin; they preen. Critics who forget that movies should be about people defend this reduction of human experience.
When up trivializes Carl and Russell's loneliness-treating it to the same journey/rescue/return blueprint as Finding Nemo, Cars, Wall-e, Monsters, Inc., A Bug's Life, Toy Story 1 and 2-the predictability becomes cloying. And the inevitable shift to anthropomorphism-Carl and Russell float to South America, encountering a prehistoric bird and mysteriously "talking" dogs-is very nearly depressing. Almost as depressing as Wall-e. Despite some imaginative imagery (gray-blue night storms, dark yet vivid jungle scenes, compositional values J.J. Abrams knows nothing about), up drops its emotional elements for chase mechanics and precious comedy. This way, Pixar disgraces and delimits the animated film as a mushy, silly pop form.
Pixarism defines the backward taste for animation. Refuting Chuck Jones' insistence that he didn't create his great Warner Bros. cartoon for children, Pixarism domesticates and homogenizes animation-as if to preserve family values. The only exceptions have been Brad Bird's Pixar movies the Incredibles and Ratatouille-both sumptuously executed in Bird's belief that animation should show "how things feel rather than are. Indulging in the human aspect of being alive." Yet their conceptual weak point was cuteness-same as Up's glossing over Carl's "public menace" court conviction and that inconsistently imagined dog pack.
After ripping-off Albert Lamorisse's classic the red balloon, dispersing it into Carl's thousands of colorful orbs, pixar then literalizes the meaning of flight as a commercial icon: Up. Here, it's simply the means to "adventures" and not an ecstatic elevation of individual identity. Last year, elitist film nerds forgot how Hou Hsiao Hsien's Flight of the Red Balloon also dishonored Lamorisse's beautiful tale-as they cynically overrated the entropic Wall-e. All this deflated cinema and Pixarism mischaracterizes what good animation can be, as in Coraline, Monster House, Vhicken Little, Teacher's Pet, The Iron Giant. Up's aesthetic failure stems from its emotional letdown.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Everlasting Gospel -- William Blake's preferred version

This is the closest to a final version there is, as judged by W.B. Yeats.

The Vision of Christ that thou dost see,
Is my vision's greatest enemy.
Thine has a long, hook nose like thine,
Mine has a snub nose like mine.
Thine is the Friend of all Mankind,
Mine speaks in Parables to the blind.
Thine loves the same world that mine hates,
Thy heaven-doors are my hell-gates.
Socrates taught what Melitus
Loathed as a nation's bitterest curse.
And Caiaphas was, in his own mind,
A benefactor to mankind.
Doth read the Bible day and night,
But thou readest black where I read white.

Was Jesus humble, or did He
Give any proofs of humility;
Boast of high things with a humble tone,
And give with charity a stone?
When but a child He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When they had wandered three days long,
This was the word upon His tongue:
"No, earthly parents, I confess
I am doing My Father's business.
When the rich learned Pharisee
Came to consult Him secretly,
Upon his heart with iron pen
He wrote, " Ye must be born again." 
He was too proud to take a bribe;
He spoke with authority, not like a scribe. 
He says, with most consummate art, 
" Follow me : I am meek and lowly of heart," 
As that is the only way to escape 
The miser's net and the glutton's trap. 
He who loves his enemies hates his friends. 
This surely was not what Jesus intends, 
But the sneaking pride of heroic schools, 
And the scribes and Pharisees' virtuous rules ; 
But He acts with honest triumphant pride,
And this is the cause that Jesus died.
He did not die with Christian ease, 
Asking pardon of His enemies. 
If He had, Caiaphas would forgive: 
Sneaking submission can always live. 
He had only to say that God was the Devil, 
And the Devil was God, like a Christian civil.

Mild Christian regrets to the Devil confess 
For affronting him thrice in the wilderness
Like to Priestley, and Bacon, and Newton,
Poor spiritual knowledge is not worth a button.
But thus the Gospel of St. Isaac confutes, 
"God can only be known by His attributes." 
He had soon been bloody Caesar's elf, 
And at last he would have been Cresar himself. 
And as for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, 
Or Christ and His Father, it's all a boast, 
Or pride and fallacy of the imagination, 
That disdains to follow this world's fashion. 
To teach doubt and experiment, 
Certainly was not what Christ meant.

What was He doing all that time, 
From ten years old to manly prime ? 
Was He then idle, or the less, 
About His father's business ? 
Or was His wisdom held in scorn, 
Before His wrath began to burn, 
In miracles throughout the land, 
That quite unnerved the (?) seraph hand ? 
If He had been Antichrist — creeping Jesus — 
He'd have done anything to please us: 
Gone sneaking into synagogues, 
And not used the elders and priests like dogs, 
But humble as a lamb or ass, 
Obeyed Himself to Caiaphas. 
God wants not man to humble himself. 
That is the trick of the ancient elf. 
This is the race that Jesus ran : 
Humble to God, haughty to man. 
Cursing the rulers before the people, 
Even to the temple's highest steeple.

And when He humbled Himself to God, 
Then descended the cruel rod.
If thou humblest thyself thou humblest Me. 
Thou also dwellest in eternity. 
Thou art a man. God is no more. 
Thy own humanity learn to adore ; 
For that is my spirit of life. 
Awake, arise to spiritual strife, 
And thy revenge abroad display, 
In terrors at the last judgment day. 
God's mercy and long suffering 
Are but the sinner to justice to bring. 
Thou on the cross for them shall pray, 
And take revenge at the last day. 
Jesus replied in thunders hurled, 
" I never will pray for the world ; 
Once I did so when I prayed in the garden. 
I wished to take with me a bodily pardon. 
Can that which was of women born, 
In the absence of the morn, 
When the soul fell into sleep, 
And archangels round it weep, 
Shooting out against the light, 
Fibres of a deadly night, 
Reasoning upon its own dark fiction, 
In doubt, which is self-contradiction ? 
Humility is only doubt, 
And does the sun and moon blot out, 
Roofing over with thorns and stems 
The buried soul and all its gems. 
This life's five windows of the soul 
Distort the heavens from pole to pole, 
And leads you to believe a lie, 
When you see with not through the eye, 
Which was born in a night to perish in a night, 
When the soul slept in beams of light."
Was Jesus chaste, or did he
Give any lessons in chastity ?
The Morning blushed fiery red.
Mary was found in adulterous bed.
Earth groaned beneath, and Heaven above
Trembled at discovery of love.
Jesus was sitting in Moses' chair.
They brought the trembling woman there.
Moses commands she be stoned to death.
What was the sound of Jesus' breath ?
He laid his hand on Moses' law.
The ancient heavens in silent awe,
Writ with curses from pole to pole,
All away began to roll.
The Earth trembling and naked lay
In secret bed of mortal clay.
On Sinai fell the hand Divine,
Putting back the bloody shrine,
And she heard the breath of God
As she heard by Eden's flood.
" Good and evil are no more ;
Sinai's trumpets cease to roar.
Cease, finger of God, to write ;
The heavens are not clean in thy sight.
Thou art good, and thou alone ;
Nor may the sinner cast one stone.
To be good only, is to be
As God or else a Pharisee.
Thou Angel of the Presence Divine,
That didst create this body of mine,
Wherefore hast thou writ these laws
And created Hell's dark jaws ?
My presence I will take from thee.
A cold leper thou shalt be,
Though thou wast so pure and bright
That Heaven was not clean in thy sight;
Though thy oath turned Heaven pale,
Though thy covenant built Hell's jail,
Though thou dost all to chaos roll
With the serpent for its soul.
Still the breath Divine does move,
And the breath Divine is love.
Mary, fear not. Let me see
The seven devils that torment thee.
Hide not from my sight thy sin,
That forgiveness thou mayst win.
Has no man condemned thee?"
"No man, Lord." "Then what is he
Who shall accuse thee? Come ye forth,
Fallen fiends of Heavenly birth
That have forgot your ancient love
And driven away my trembling dove.
You shall bow before her feet;
You shall lick the dust for meet,
And though you cannot love, but hate,
You shall be beggars at love's gate.
What was thy love? Let me see it.
Was it love, or dark deceit?"
"Love too long from me has fled.
'Twas dark deceit to earn my bread.
'Twas covet, or 'twas custom, or
Some trifle not worth caring for
That they may call a shame and sin;
Love's temple that God dwelleth in,
And hide in secret hidden shrine
The naked human form divine
And render that a lawless thing
On which the soul expands her wing.
But this, O Lord, this was my sin,
When first I let the devils in,
In dark pretence to chastity,
Blaspheming love, blaspheming Thee.
Thence rose secret adulteries,
And thence did covet also rise.
My sin thou hast forgiven me.
Canst thou forgive my blasphemy?
Canst thou return to this dark hell,
And in my burning bosom dwell?
And canst thou die that I may live
And canst thou pity and forgive? "
Then rolled the shadowy Man away
From the limbs of Jesus to make them his prey,
An ever-devouring appetite
Glistering with festering venoms bright,
Saying, — " Crucify this cause of distress,
Who don't keep the secret of holiness!
The mental powers by disease we bind,
But he heals the deaf, the dumb, the blind,
Whom God hath alHicted for secret ends.
He comforts and heals and calls them friends,
But when Jesus was crucified
Then was perfected his galling pride.
In three days he devoured his prey,
And still devours this body of clay.
For dust and clay is the serpent's meat
That never was meant for man to eat."